What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel, also known as chemexfoliation or dermapeeling, uses a chemical solution to improve the appearance of your skin.first. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin, causing trauma or injury to the layers of the skin. Layers of skin eventually peel off, revealing younger-looking skin. The new skin is generally smoother, with fewer lines and wrinkles, a more even color, and a clearer complexion.
What conditions do chemical peels treat?
Chemical peels are used to treat certain skin conditions or to improve the appearance of the skin by improving skin tone and texture.
Chemical peels are most often done on the face, neck, or hands. They can help reduce or improve:
- Fine lines under the eyes or around the mouth and wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging and hereditary factors.
- certain types ofacne.
- Light scar.
- Sun spots, age spots, liver spots, freckles, uneven skin coloration.
- Precancerous scaly patches calledactinic keratosis.
- Rough skin, scaly patches, dull complexion.
- dark spots (melasmas) due tothe pregnancytaking itbirth control pills.
You will work with your dermatologist to determine the depth of your scab. This joint decision may vary depending on the condition of your skin and the goals of the treatment.
Pits, bumps, deep scars, deep facial lines, and more severe wrinkles do not respond well to chemical peels. If these are your concerns, other cosmetic surgical procedures, such as carbon dioxide laser resurfacing, facelift, brow lift, eye lift, or soft tissue filler, will be better options. A dermatologist surgeon can help determine the best treatment for your concerns.
Are chemical peels good for all skin types?
In general, superficial peels can be used on all skin types. However, if you have a darker skin tone, you are at higher risk of darkening after treatment. This condition is called postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. If you have a naturally darker skin tone, you may want to get your dermatologist's advice on other, less aggressive treatments to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation.
Chemical peels can alsonot be recommendedand you:
- You have a history of abnormal skin healing.
- Have extra color in your scars.
- You have skin problems or take medicines that make your skin more sensitive.
- You cannot stay out of the sun during the healing period.
How are chemical peels performed?
A chemical peel can be performed in a doctor's office or in an operating room as an outpatient procedure. Your skin will be thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oil, while your eyes and hair are protected. A chemical solution is then applied to the skin. Chemical solutions typically used include glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol). Different types of chemicals cause controlled injury, each penetrating a different depth into the skin and then peeling off to reveal a new layer of skin.
Different chemical solutions give different results. The choice of chemical depends on its purpose. You will work with your dermatologist to determine the depth of your scab.
- ALight chemical peel ("lunchtime")it provides subtle improvements over time and is usually done in a series. The outermost layer of skin is removed. This option may be best if you have fine wrinkles, acne, uneven skin coloration, or dry, rough sun-damaged skin to help promote a healthy glow. Recovery from this type of peel can take anywhere from hours to a few days, but with little to no downtime.
- AMedium chemical peelgives your skin a smooth and fresh look. The outermost layer and the upper part of the middle layer of the skin are removed. This option may be best if you have patchy or moderate skin discoloration, age spots, acne scars, or fine to moderate wrinkles. Recovery from this type of peel can take a week or more and requires some downtime.
- Adeep chemical peelproduces the most dramatic results. This chemical penetrates to the lower middle layer of the skin. Recovery time is longer with a deep peel. This option may be best if you have moderate lines and wrinkles, extensive sun-damaged skin, deep acne scars, blotchy skin, and/or precancerous growths called actinic keratosis. A deep chemical peel requires up to eight weeks pre-treatment. Your doctor will give you specific instructions. A deep chemical peel is a unique treatment if applied to the face and has significant downtime.
To prepare for your chemical peel, some general instructions include:
- Avoid tanning and direct sun exposure for two weeks before each treatment.
- Apply topical products (such as hydroquinone) as directed before treatment to prepare the skin.
- Do not use any products that contain retinoids (such as tretinoin) one to two weeks before treatment unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
- If you received oral antibiotics or an oral antiviral medication, start taking it at least 24 hours before the chemical peel.
- Peel areas should be free of open wounds, lesions, or skin infections.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions for your type of peel and your particular skin condition.
Naked day:Your skin will be completely clean. If you are having a deep chemical peel, you will be given general anesthesia (you will be asleep).
The procedure:During a chemical peel, the solution is applied to the skin. You may feel a warm or slightly warm sensation that lasts for a few minutes. This is followed by a burning sensation. To soothe the bite, a cold compress can be applied to the skin. The chemical is then washed and/or neutralized.
Risks / Benefits
What are the possible complications of chemical peels?
In certain skin types, there is a risk of a temporary or permanent change in skin color. Taking birth control pills, pregnancy, or a family history of brown discoloration on the face can increase the risk of developingabnormal pigmentation.
There is also a low risk of scarring in certain areas of the face and some people may be more prone to scarring. If scarring does occur, it can usually be treated with good results.
If you have had a history of herpes outbreaks, there is a small chance that the herpes could reactivate.able. Your dermatologist can prescribe medication to reduce the chance of a breakout. Follow the instructions of your doctor.
Before chemical peels, be sure to tell your dermatologist if you have a history of keloids (scarexcessive growth created at the site of a skin lesion), any unusual tendency to scarring, any X-rays of your face, or a history of cold sores.
Infections are rare but still a risk.
Recovery and Prospects
What should I expect after the chemical peel?
What to expect varies depending on the depth of the chemical peel.
If you have done a light chemical peel:
- Expect a sunburn-like reaction after peeling, which means you'll see redness followed by peeling that lasts anywhere from three to seven days.
- Apply lotion or cream as directed until skin heals. After your skin heals, apply sunscreen daily.
- You can apply makeup immediately after the treatment or the next day.
- Additional peels can be repeated every two to five weeks until desired results are achieved. Typically, three to five peels are needed to achieve your goal.
If you have done a medium chemical peel:
- Expect redness, swelling, burning, and peeling of the skin. The swelling can last and/or get worse for 48 hours. The blisters can develop and break. The skin will scab over and peel off over the course of seven to 14 days.
- Perform daily soaks as directed by your doctor. Apply the ointment after each soak. Apply lotion or cream daily. Do not expose your skin to sunlight until it has fully healed.
- You will need to take antiviral medication for 10 to 14 days.
- You can wear makeup after five to seven days.
- Additional medium depth peels can be repeated at six to 12 month intervals if necessary to maintain results.
If you have had a deep chemical peel:
- The treatment area will be bandaged. The bandages will be removed in a few days. Expect a healing time of 14-21 days.
- Perform daily soaks as directed by your doctor. Apply the ointment after each soak. After 14 days, apply moisturizer as directed. Keep your skin out of the sun for three to six months.
- You will need to take antiviral medication for 10 to 14 days.
- Wait at least 14 days before using any makeup.
- You can only do a deep peeling on the face.
For the best results, regardless of the depth of the peel, follow these tips:
- Do not use a tanning bed or other type of indoor or outdoor tanning while your skin is healing.
- After your skin heals, always apply a daily sunscreen.
- Apply a daily moisturizer as directed to keep skin moist and prevent scarring.
Your new skin is fragile and more susceptible to complications. Your doctor will provide you with aftercare instructions to reduce the chance of developing abnormal skin color after the peel and other complications.
If your skin itches, swells or burns, contact your doctor. Scratching the skin can lead to an infection.
Is chemical peeling covered by insurance?
No, not generally. Chemical peels are considered a cosmetic treatment and therefore are not covered by insurance.